One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of becoming a published author, something we'll all have to face when our books hit bookstore shelves, is reviews. There seem to be a million and one places online for people to post reviews, which only increases the chances that we'll eventually see something written about our work that doesn't particularly make us happy. I've heard published authors say that they don't read their reviews, but I'm not sure I'll be that strong. It's actually kind of strange that I would care so much about my reviews considering I rarely consult reviews when choosing my own reading material or which movies to watch.
I admit that years ago I did consult the reviews on at least one romance review site, The Romance Reader. Most of the time, I tended to agree with them. But I've seen lukewarm or even bad reviews for stories I've enjoyed. Think about it -- how many times have you loved a book or movie only to find out someone you know hated it? My husband and I love O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but two other members of our family think it's one of the worst movies they've ever seen. One of my favorite movies is Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day-Lewis, but my husband can't stand to watch it. When the movie Stardust came out last year, I don't think it got very good reviews. But when I watched it last week, I really enjoyed it. It was a fun combination of fantasy, humor, a quest story, and romance. I liked the performances given by Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Robert DeNiro. And we've all heard the stories about movies that got bad reviews but racked in big bucks at the box office.
Maybe I'm easily entertained or maybe reviewers go into reviewing a movie or book with the mindset of, "I must find everything that could conceivably be wrong with this." Granted, there are books and movies that deserve their horrible reviews. Gigli, anyone? Gah, the worst movie I've EVER seen! I saw an article recently that said it even eclipsed Ishtar (which I've not seen) as the worst movie of all time. But there are stories in various forms that receive what I feel are undeserved negative reviews. I don't know if the reviewers are just harsh, they're having a bad day, or negativity, for whatever reason, tends to draw more traffic.
I saw another online article recently that questioned the relevance of reviews, particularly for movies, because people tend not to pay attention to them if they are negative. The article's author stated that while negative reviews might not end up having a negative effect (unless, of course, it's an overwhelming chorus of horrible reviews), lots of positive reviews tend to create positive buzz and word of mouth. Maybe we all trust word of mouth passed along to us by friends more than reviews by faceless critics. Maybe we just don't want someone else telling us what we should and shouldn't like; we want to make up our minds for ourselves.
So what about you? Do you pay attention to reviews? Have you ever enjoyed a book or movie that was panned by reviewers? If so, what was it?